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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Nuns in early modern convents formed a discerning group of writers whose interpretive skills were distinctly shaped by their devotional discipline. This chapter explores their use of particular biblical passages that expose their contemplative concerns, aesthetic impetus, and wider mission to advance the spiritual state of their own readers. Among other material, the women drew on the Psalms, on Thomas à Kempis, the work of Teresa of Ávila and of other contemporary nuns, many of whom wrote anonymously and have only recently been identified. Nuns’ writing shows detailed knowledge of a wide range of secular and devotional material. Their use of quotation in private papers, publication, and around the convent building reveals a semi-sacramental, intercessional interest, to further their readers’ experience of the holy at a bodily as well as spiritual level. These authors seek to ‘infuse’ devotional feelings, simultaneously instructing and effecting change through the process of textual encounter.

Keywords: Catholic, contemplative, convent, Crashaw, exegesis, exile, imitation, nuns, Southwell, Teresa of Ávila

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